The Final Girls (2015)
THE FINAL GIRLS is one of those films that was getting a lot of buzz even before the trailer was released. I didn’t see the trailer until I saw THE VISIT, and I must say I was excited. The film looked funny, scary, has a great cast, and promised to be a huge wink and a nod to horror fans everywhere. I watched THE FINAL GIRLS this past weekend on Vudu.com and only have one thing to say:
All the hype and early positive buzz is completely warranted!!
THE FINAL GIRLS is indeed a hugely entertaining film–or more accurately a film within a film–that delivers on the comedy, on the scares, and on the winks and nods. Taissa Farmiga stars as Max, a twentysomething who recently lost her mother in a fatal car accident. Her mother, played by Malin Akerman, starred in the granddaddy of all slasher films, the cult classic, Camp Bloodbath. Duncan (Thomas Middleditch), the brother of Max’s friend Gertie (Alia Shawkat), is an obsessed fan and president of the Camp Bloodbath fan club. So when it is the anniversary of the film’s release date, Duncan begs Max to make an appearance since her mother was one of the stars. Max hesitantly agrees. Chris (Alexander Ludwig), who has a crush on Max, shows up at the theater to support her, and Vicki (Nina Dobrev) also shows up. Vicki used to date Chris and is jealous of the attention he’s been giving Max. A freak accident happens in the theater and the gang narrowly escapes death by cutting into the large screen that is showing Camp Bloodbath. They run through the tear in the screen only to find that they have entered into the Camp Bloodbath movie itself.
This is when everything gets really fun.
Once they realize and accept that they are indeed inside the Camp Bloodbath movie, they look to Duncan, who is a bit of a goofball, for leadership since he is both the expert on the film they are in and the expert in horror films in general. Duncan’s plan is to hook up with Paula (Chloe Bridges), the all-important final girl in the film. His theory is that once the final girl kills the masked killer Billy (Dan B. Norris), then they will be able to escape from the film and get back to real life. Max is all for the plan until she sees her mother’s character, Nancy, in the film. Seeing her brings up all the feelings she has been trying to deal with since her mom died three years ago. Max can’t help herself and befriends Nancy. Nancy’s role in the film is the “innocent” girl who wants to lose her virginity. Unfortunately, after she gets laid she is soon killed by Billy. But Max convinces her to not have sex, thereby saving her life. This, though, sets off a string of events that ruins Duncan’s plan of sticking close to final girl Paula. Now the gang has to convince the actors in Camp Bloodbath that are just actors in a film, all the while trying to come up with another plan to get them out of the celluloid world.
Writers M.A. Fortin and Joshua John Miller have a really fun time playing around with the collision of the two worlds. Granted, we never get a satisfying explanation as to how Max and her friends ended up in Camp Bloodbath, but after a while you won’t care. The writers play around with the basic stereotypes found in all slasher flicks. There is the Innocent Girl, Nancy; the Slutty Girl, Tina (Angela Trimbur); the Sex-Crazed Guy, Kurt (Adam DeVine, who steals the movie); and the Nice Guy, Blake (Tory N. Thompson). Director Todd Strauss-Schulson effortlessly maneuvers between the two groups of characters and never allows the comedy to take anything away from the scary scenes. And besides the stereotyped characters, the writers also play around with other elements found in pretty much every slasher film from the 1980s: the flashback, slow motion, the indestructibility of the killer, and the dreaded sequels!! What Wes Craven began in NEW NIGHTMARE and further explored in his SCREAM films is taken to a new level in THE FINAL GIRLS. The question of fate comes into play here as the characters in Camp Bloodbath must decide if they are the masters of their own fate or just destined to die due to the roles the writers gave their characters. It is a very clever and fun film all around.
Some of the kills are really fun, but my one big complaint was that there wasn’t more gore in THE FINAL GIRLS. More gore would’ve taken this film over the top. But this one criticism aside, THE FINAL GIRLS is a hugely entertaining film that sets itself up nicely–and, as it turns out logically–for a sequel. The best way to summarize this film? Think THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO meets TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL meets CABIN IN THE WOODS. Definitely don’t miss this one.
Director: Todd Strauss-Schulson
Plot: 4 out of 5 stars
Gore: 3 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer